In the wake of the pandemic, the rebirth of climate mobilizations
One hundred thousand striking students, 15 to 20 thousand demonstrating
Marc Bonhomme reports
According to the Student Coalition for an Environmental and Social Shift (CEVES in French), organizer of the September 24 climate events with the collaboration of the Innu collective Mashk Assi, Solidarité sans frontières and Pour le futur Montréal just over 110,000 students went on strike that day. In the street, in ten towns in Quebec including Montreal and Quebec, there were ten to fifteen thousand in Montreal, two to three thousand in Quebec and a few hundred elsewhere. As one would expect, political recovery was there and its place in the mainstream media preeminent in soothing words. But let us point out the procession of a few dozen people from the left wing party Québec solidaire in Montreal, which contrasted with the union and popular presence reduced to a few pennants and one or the other banner.
In the large media, it would have been appreciated that priority had been given to messages on posters (see the photo album) ranging from the predominant eco-anxiety (“A future, what future?”) to calls to action (“Planet that is dying. Students on strike “) passing through the denunciation of the system (” The climate is changing, why not the system “) which calls for the “climate revolution” embodied by the transition of a few concrete demands and (“Justin pipeline Trudeau, François third link Legault, how dare you?”, “Leave it in the ground”). The general slogan of the Montreal demonstration on the large banner opening the march – “Social justice – Climate justice, same fight” – picked it up.
Speeches and route that convey a strategy and a policy of alliance
Of note is the economy and the judicious choice of the opening speeches and the culmination of the Montreal march, which testify to the coalition’s strategy and alliance policy. Initially we find renewing the alliance with the aboriginal nations through the Innu collective Mashk Assi, which was the first to address the crowd and whose banner preceded the general one of the demonstration. The protest ended outside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) offices “in support of the protesters in Fairy Creek, British Columbia, who are calling for a moratorium on logging.” As of September 23, 1,089 people had been arrested in Fairy Creek by the RCMP, making it the largest civil disobedience movement in Canadian history. “(La Presse)
Then came the speech of the citizen association Mob6600 / Parc nature / Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve which organized a demonstration of 500 people on September 18 (photo album: https://1drv.ms/a/s!Aj4UXfoRjr1TkwcfeNLAh55 -8lIx) against the extension of the Port of Montreal in the large wasteland L’Assomption to speed up the movement of goods via the extension of highways and the construction of a polluting and imposing truck-rail transshipment platform by the company Ray- Mount. This nascent link underlines the need for the rooting of major mobilizations that are exciting but which have difficulty taking hold and changing the socio-political landscape. On the flip side of the coin, it helps nationalize local struggles that have no balance of power to single-handedly defeat enemies bringing together business people and all levels of government eating into their hands out of economic and financial necessity.
This was followed by the presentation of the Solidarity Without Borders movement, which defends the radical opening of borders to people fleeing wars and misery in dependent countries, under the leadership of the imperialist and their national henchmen, worsened by climatic catastrophes and unbearable prolonged heat waves. In conclusion, a doctor representing the Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment and a health worker were heard, who eloquently and concretely demonstrated that the obvious consequences of the covid-19 pandemic on health predict what those of global warming will be and for which our health system is not at all up to the task. However, we can regret the absence on the platform of the struggle for housing, which has become crucial while the FRAPRU, one of the few popular organizations present at the demonstration with its banner, could have popularized on the speaking platform its demand for the annual construction of 10 000 energy efficient social housing which reduced both GHG and poverty while creating good jobs. But the great oversight of the demonstration was elsewhere.
The childcare centers workers’ strike-demonstration was part of the climate protest!
While under the afternoon sun of September 24 the climatic demonstrations unfolded, under the morning rain of the same day several hundred workers from childcare centers (CPE) demonstrated while more than 10 000 of their sisters were on strike for the day to raise an abysmal salary. They ask for parity with their co-workers working in school, which would ensure the survival of the network because “many CPEs are on the verge of breaking down service. […] That means that we call the parents back and we say: “Sorry, but there is no one [to take care of your child]” “ (Radio-Canada) said the president of the union from the Quebec City region.
It is too often forgotten that these jobs are, by definition, ecological because they require almost no mechanical energy, let alone fossil, but a lot of human energy. Their goal is to create rich social relations, the fabric of society, which are an antidote to mass consumption whose material bases are alienating work for profit whether it is in the assembly line, under high electronic surveillance or isolated in front of his computer in a cubicle or at home. Their human work with humans is an integral part of the ecofeminist alternative society of caring for people and mother earth. It would have taken a delegation from this union to the climate demonstration. It would have been the beginning of the beginning of this union emergence capable of transforming the climate-biodiversity movement into this realism that demands the impossible.
A call for November 5 and 6
This event is a call for the Quebec participation in the global mobilization at COP-26 in early November, especially towards the union movement. The COP 26 Coalition designated Friday November 5 as a day of global strike and workplace action and Saturday November 6 as a day of mass protests in Glasgow and elsewhere around the world.
Marc Bonhomme, September 25, 2021